The figure was 1% higher than in the same six-month period in 2012, the bureau said. In June, tourism rose 3% to 295,000.
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"The Tourism Ministry views tourism as an essential engine for economic growth that creates new jobs in the periphery," said Tourism Minister Uzi Landau. "We will continue our work in growing the number of visitors to Israel and realizing the tourism potential."
Landau said the Ministry was targeting Chinese tourists and will hold a road show in China over the next few days that will feature Israeli food and Dead Sea mud treatments.
The Israeli Embassy in Beijing has already implemented reforms for Chinese visitors receiving entry to Israel to encourage tourism, including easing of visa restrictions.
"These easier procedures are part of a program to make Israel more accessible to the Chinese tourist and to encourage airlines to operate flights to Israel in the near future," the Ministry said.
During the first five months of 2013, the number of visitors from China to Israel rose 27%. In all of 2012, Chinese tourists totaled more than 20,000.
"We will work to increase the number of incoming tourists from China to Israel over the next few years," Landau said.